St. Augustine, FL Â â€” During the opening reception of the 5th Annual Nature & Wildlife Exhibition, the St. Augustine Art Association presented over $5,000 in prizes to twelve artists who collectively traveled more than 5,000 miles to accept their awards.
Terry Van Loenen from Queen Creek, Arizona, won the $2,000 Bradley/Mayer Best in Show Award for his bronze sculpture of two elks, titled “Double Bull.” Â The artist redeemed his frequent-flyer miles to pick up the award in person.
Inspired by the beauty of nature and the relationship between shape and movement, Van Loenen said his sculptures evolve from the natural shape of wood or rock he uses to form his armature. Â “Creating each piece is like hearing the strains of a new song in my head and wanting to build a full symphony,” said Van Loenen. “But sculpture is a mute form that speaks through its symbolic physical presence.”
Sergei Orgunov, a Ukranian artist who resides in Orange Park, won the $1,000 first place award for his oil painting, “Wild Youth.” Â Orgunov has received awards in this annual exhibition every year, including the first place honor last year.
The $700 second place award, sponsored by Ross/Springhorn CPAs, was given to Andrea Brogan for her sculpture, “Rhino.” Brogan drove overnight from Thornton, Pennsylvania, to attend the awards ceremony. “This is such an honor to be recognized,” said Brogan. “It’s rare that something like this happens, so we jumped in the car and headed off on an adventure.”
Mindy Colton from Orlando, Florida, won the $500 third place prize for “Forest Dancers,” an equine-inspired mixed media sculpture. A previous award-winner, Colton has participated in the annual nature exhibit for four years.
Rusty Frentner drove from Ypsilanti, Michigan to accept the Jean Wagner Troemel Award for “Moments in Time,” an oil painting of the Grand Canyon that was created through the National Parks Artist-in-Residence program.
Artistic merit awards were given to Amanda Campbell (Jacksonville) for “Palm Fronds,” a welded sculpture, Dennis Holt (Naples) for his photograph “Short Eared Owl,” Stephen Left (Pompano Beach) for “Waiting for Mowgli,” an oil painting and Cindy Wilson (St. Augustine) for her batik, “Old Wisteria Vine.”
Honorable mentions went to Cindy Capehart (Gainesville) for “Lower Suwanee National Wildlife Grasses,” and Kathryn Trillas (St. Augustine) for “Lake Bruce, Indiana,” a monotype. Â Debi James (St. Augustine) won the “People’s Choice Award” for her mosaic “Spoonbill.”
Judged by UNF Sculpture Professor Jenny Hager, the gallery-wide exhibit features 130 works of art that were selected from 500 entires. “The quality of artwork in this exhibit is excellent, in terms of beauty, subject matter and technical skill,” said Hager. “Some of the works are impressive because of craftsmanship or process, while others are very simple but exquisite compositionally, like a beautiful poem.”
The 5th Annual Nature & Wildlife Art Exhibition is on display through August 31, at 22 Marine Street. Gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 2 to 5 p.m. on Sundays and from 5 to 9 p.m. during First Friday Art Walk, August 1. Admission is free. Â For more information call (904) 824-2310 or visit www.staaa.org.